Chris Lakey: On pants, Barry Fry and general silliness
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
Norwich City fans – are you one of Great Britain's lucky 26 per cent?
Research shows that around a quarter of us have a good luck charm we wear for prosperity – I can only assume that in this case the word prosperity means success, not just financial gain.
So, if you are heading for Carrow Road this afternoon, you might want to consider your attire very carefully.
Of those who take stock of lucky charms, here are the big figures:
59pc of people say wearing their lucky item makes them feel more confident in nerve-wracking situations
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26pc of superstitious Brits rely on something from their wardrobe to keep bad luck at bay
24pc own a pair of lucky pants
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17pc own a lucky piece of jewellery
11pc own a lucky pair of socks, 8pc have a pair of lucky shoes and 5pc claim to own a shirt which brings them good luck
Okay, so we know in general what to wear... buy for what?
Well, 81pc wear something lucky for an exam, 72pc for a first date, 34pc for a job interview – and 66pc for a sporting event.
Of the 2,000 people surveyed, 74pc said they would never get rid of their good-luck piece, and one in five wouldn't wash their lucky garment
Not everyone surveyed was a football fan, but the ones I know do seem to have a superstitious bent, a reliance on a piece of luck to achieve their goals, as it were. Luck, of course, doesn't exist. Everything that happens is caused by something else happening, which is not lucky, it is actual. You can compartmentalise luck alongside trickery, superstitions and curses.
Wearing your favourite jockeys this afternoon will have absolutely no bearing on whether Mario Vrancic turns in a blinder, Cameron Jerome finds the back of the net, or Angus Gunn keeps out anything Preston can throw at him. Those who believe in charms will say they work when a wayward shot hits the ref on the bum and goes past the Preston goalie, or when the goal collapses behind Gunn just as the ball is rocketing in the top corner.
Sports people have tried to test this luck thing before, to stand defiant before it.
Remember Barry Fry having a wee in all four corners of Birmingham City's ground to cleanse it of a famous curse placed on the club a century earlier? Typical Fry stunt. Did it work? Er...
Most sporting superstitions are innocent enough: Laurent Blanc planting a kiss on the head of goalkeeper Fabien Barthez before games – did it do anything other than make them look a little odd? Or Paul Ince insisting he put his shirt on at the very last minute as he ran on to the pitch – about as much use as trying to persuade people to call him the Guv'nor.
Some players sit at the same peg in the dressing room, one used to spit against the loo wall (David James). Quite a lot like to be the last player on to the pitch – a wish that backfired on Kolo Touré when an Arsenal team-mate was having treatment at the break and he just couldn't bring himself to go out ahead of him. Tour missed the start of the second half and was booked for running on to the pitch with the ref's permission.
This is all for the sake of 'good luck'.
Imagine an alien landing one earth and seeing grown men and women wearing filthy clothes and special items of jewellery in the hope that men who cradle their private parts whenever they have the opportunity and kick a pig's blader around for a living, win a game. A game for goodness sake.
It's called football and the human race. What a combination.
It's a wrist-slapper
Good to see that Everton's Oumar Niasse charged with 'successful deception of a match official' - but it throws open a whole can of wriggly things.
Niasse somehow managed to turn a slight brush of his shorts against Crystal palace defender Scott Dann into a Greg Louganis 9.5 effort - it was a work of art.
The referee, Anthony Taylor, was conned, awarding a penalty from which Everton scored.
A couple of things spring to mind: it is all of little consolation to Palace – the match ended 2-2 but given the incident happened in the fifth minute, they might argue that things could have turned out very differently.
I'm not sure how long the FA panel that decides these things took to reach the conclusion that Niasse dived: could it have been done by video evidence there and then? Could it have been seen had there been an official behind the goal line?
But what hits me around the face like a wet kipper is that, in a sport which is riddled with cheating, from the petty to the very significant, the punishment needs to be severe. If football is to rid itself of this stupidity, it needs to do more than slap wrists, more than a short ban for the player.
Incidentally, the FA panel can only act in cases where the ref has been deceived and as a direct result, the offending player's team has been awarded a penalty and/or an opposing player has been dismissed. So, cheating in the middle of the field which doesn't end in a red card doesn't get punished in the same way. Make of that what you will but it seems to me they are only doing half a job.
The panel can rescind cautions and dismissals issued to players who were incorrectly disciplined for the 'foul' – no problems there.
But it there is no option for points to be retrospectively awarded to any team who fall foul of a diver – I'm guessing hat would open up an ever bigger can of worms.
And, from the FA website: 'In accepted and/or proven cases of simulation and/or feigning injury, the offending player would receive a two-match suspension.'
Two matches. That's it. It's almost worth it...